Tuesday, June 19, 2007


Sue and I have started working on our Asian vacation pictures. I've taken ownership of all of the food photos. After some putzing around with perl, we managed to resynch all of the jpeg when-picture-taken timestamps so that the combination of all of our pictures are in temporal order (her camera's clock was about an hour and fifteen minutes off from mine), and I've started posting food pics. You can find these at my food blog. For the non-food stuff, you'll have to wait until Sue starts posting at our webpage. Bon appetit!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Conferences and Hockey

After the three-week trip through Asia, I got back to Atlanta and then it was two weeks of hectic trying to finish up on MICRO submissions. At the same time, I had all of my CASES reviews to finish as well. Got all of that taken care of, and then flew to San Diego for ISCA. We had the CASES meeting all day on Sunday, and then the conference M through W. Monday night we had our much-anticipated ice hockey match against the theorists. We ended up winning 6-4, although it was a pretty good match with a lot of action on both ends of the ice. Just got back from San Diego, and now I think I can finally catch my breath a bit.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Osaka, Day 3 and 4

After grabbing breakfast, we took the train out to Fushimi Inari, where there are a bunch of shrines and gates (tori) up on a hill.


The Tori.

And more Tori.

Funny and really confusing advertisement for coffee found on a vending machine. My brother tells me that the woman is some famous pop star in Japan.

Me at the shrine at the top of the hill.

Mini waterfall-like thing.

After Fushimi Inari, we met up with one of L's friends in Kyoto to go see the Cherry Blossom Dance. This is a traditional dance that is done only once a year (although they do something like four shows per day for a month straight) by the best Maiko (apprentice Geisha) and Geisha/Geiko in Gion (the Geisha section of Osaka).

Besides the costumes, the sets were really impressive (there were a lot more, but I didn't feel like posting twenty photos of sets).

The next morning near the train station, there was some sort of stuff going on:

Some guy dressed in a traditional infantryman uniform.

Kids drumming and some guy doing some sort of dance. (More Youtube footage.) It actually sort of looks like he's at a rave or something like that. After that, it was back off to the airport and then back to Seoul. Much food was consumed, and a very good trip was had.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Osaka, Day 2

On day 2, we explored Osaka. We got up in the morning, took the train further into town, and then got on this old-school electric street car. It was very old-fashioned. Pretty neat.

The street car went through the streets for a bit and then got out of traffic on its own private set of tracks. We went for probably about 5 stops or so and then got off to go find another temple/shrine. The temple is supposed to have this one shrine that's inside a tree (I think the tree basically grew around it?). There were also a lot of fox statues, which are somehow supposed to represent a good harvest... not sure why.

Inside of a shrine with many lanterns.

Big gate.

Cool bridge. I've seen similar in some of the Japanese gardens in the states (I think the one in Portland, OR has one).

Crafty fox.

The shrine in the tree.

After that, we made our way over to "den-den town", which is like Osaka's version of Tokyo's Akihabara or Seoul's Yongsan Market (electronics districts). We weren't actually looking for any electronic goods, but L wanted to go check out an anime/manga shop there. There was all sorts of anime/manga-branded products (or "swag" as L likes to call it).

This one was particularly funny... get your own anime loincloth! I don't know who the target market of this is, and I'm not sure I want to know.

Walking around, we briefly went through another small shrine. This statue was really neat as it had been completely taken over by some sort of moss or moss-like plant.

You can't escape Hello Kitty when you're in Japan...

So what do Japanese think about Americans? I'm not totally sure, but we did visit "Amerika Town". In the states, we have things like Chinatown and Little Italy, so it makes sense that other countries might have America-towns as well. The difference is that in the US, the ethnic centers are typically populated by people from the country for which the neighborhood is named after. I don't think there were too many non-tourist Americans here though. Anyway, there's a replica of good ol' Lady Liberty on top of a building.

A random intersection of Amerika Town. McD's is there of course...

Later that evening, we met up with two of L's friends for dinner, and then even after that we dropped by a Japanese arcade. They have a lot of interactive games there.

DDR of course. (Man, we sucked.) Other games include banging on big ol' Japanese drums (taiko), a pretty neat game where you threw plastic balls at the screen to break or squash stuff, and plenty of other "rhythm" games similar in concept to DDR (e.g., the DJ mixing game, the guitar game, smack buttons in rhythm game, etc.).

This one was pretty funny. It's some sort of zombie/monster game, but instead of hitting, cutting and shooting the bad guys, you must *type* to kill them. The line on the side of the machine is great. On the front, it also says "Type or Die!!!", "The Apocolypse draws near" and "Abject terror awaits!" This would probably make high-school keyboarding/touch-typing classes more fun.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Osaka, Day 0 and 1

Last Wednesday afternoon right after class, I ran back to the apartment, grabbed my backpack, and caught a bus for the airport. Later that evening, I found myself landing in the Kansai International Airport right outside of Osaka, Japan. The reason for this trip was to visit a good friend (L) of mine and Sue's that we knew from both Yale and Seattle.

The covered markets around L's neighborhood. We went to a little Izakaya nearby where she knew the owner. We had dinner and a few drinks but didn't hang out too late. Went back to her apartment to plan the next day's activities.

So Thursday morning we took the train out to Himeji where there's a big castle. I'm told that this is the castle that puts the rest of the Japanese castles to shame.

Pretty picture of the castle framed with cherry blossoms. I apparently managed to hit the tail end of the cherry blossom viewing season (which only lasts about a week or so).

Warning sign in the castle. But what if write something using neat penmanship that's not a scribble?

Spears and muskets.

We then went off Akashi where we went searching for some of the octopus snacks (Akashiyaki) that the area is known for. (Refer to the food page.)

Some sign for a restaurant. I just found this really entertaining as the expression on the octopus' face is one of total surprise like he just won that fish in the lottery or something.

As the afternoon wore on, we made our way back to Osaka. We took a leisurely stroll from the train station along the water over to the Osaka Castle.

Along the way, we saw a very entertaining scene of a guy net-fishing off the side of a jet ski!

Osaka Castle.

Close up of some of the stonework. After having seen Machu Picchu last summer, while very good, the Incan stonework is still at a level higher than that of this Japanese stonework.

Close up of the Osaka Castle.

After resting up at the apartment for a while, we went back out in search of dinner.

On the way, L showed me this silly "cafe" where basically you pay money and you can go and sit around and play with dogs and puppies. There are menus where you can but doggie treats and what not. I suppose its's probably less hassle than owning a dog in a crowded city.

Large Japanese cities seem to have a problem with old men making unwanted advances (accidental contact or even outright groping) on women. So during certain hours, there are some train cars that are reserved exclusively for women.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Singapore, Day 3 and 4

Day 3 started with a relatively late wake up (about 10:30am, even though bed time was after 5am earlier that morning). We went to the rink for a semi-final game in our bracket. This was single elimination, and we got eliminated. At the end of the tournament, we played six games and were 2-4. Not spectacular, but there were a lot of other fast and skilled teams there. We played pretty well over all. So after that, I headed back to the hotel, showered up, and headed back into the city.

First stop: little India. Lots of Indian groceries and other shops. Many streets did not have proper "sidewalks," but the stores sort of had this shared covered walkway in front of their stores as seen above. A couple of Pakistani shops thrown into the mix as well. Some incredible Indian food was had.

Contents of one store. I guess religious idols of some sort.

A mosque.

Singapore is famous for their strict laws. This was really big in the news a few years ago when some American kid got caught spraying graffiti and ended up getting caned. However even with strict laws, to quote an ad I saw on a bus: "Low crime does not mean no crime." Most of the city is very clean, but I managed to find some graffiti afterall. (It says "Punk is Resistance".)

From little India, I walked over to a section called Arab Street. This big mosque seemed like a center-piece for that neigborhood. There were a large number of cloth/fabric stores as well as dress stores in the area. Very pretty neighborhood.

Another view of the main dome of the mosque from further away.

I walked by this sign which I thought was funny. It reads "State Land/Enter at Your Own Risk"... not sure what it's supposed to mean. Are there dangerous animals on site? Or are they simply saying that if you trip and twist your ankle, you can't sue the state over it? Anyway, I risked it.

Here's a sign you won't see outside of southeast asia (the one on the bottom right). It says "No durians". A durian is a tropical fruit that when opened, smells something like raw sewage and is very, very strong. (A bunch of the fruit caused a terror scare a few years ago on a flight in Australia.) The other signs are also interesting as they give you a good idea for now steep the fines are for simple violations ($1000 for smoking!).

Finally that night, there was an end of the tournament banquet. I went to bed relatively early (maybe 1am or so), but I had to get up at 5am the next morning because we had an early 8am flight back to Seoul. This is me waiting in line for check-in not having an easy time trying to stay awake. Then we flew back to Seoul and that brought the trip to its conclusion. I had a great time. I really liked Singapore, and this will probably be the only time in my life where I'll have played ice hockey in the tropics! Good food, good memories, good times.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Singapore, Day 2

On Day 2, our first game was early at 8:30am. So after that, I went back to the hotel, showered up, and then went walking around. Here are some nice, sunny, day time pictures of Singapore.

Clarke Quay again.

From a bridge over the river, also in Clarke Quay.

From a pedestrian overpass on my way from Clarke Quay to Chinatown.

Street entering into Chinatown. There are flowers and other red decorations for the Chinese New Year.

Entering into Chinatown. The architecture is starting to get a little more "Chinese" or otherwise Asian-looking.

More New Year decorations.

So traditionally, they have lion and/or dragon dances to celebrate the New Year. Since this is the year of the pig, I guess someone modified a lion suit into a pig suit.

Street in Chinatown with lots of shopping stalls. Most of them were just selling random tourist junk though.

Another cool view of a Chinatown street. It was particularly nice with all of the New Year decorations still up. There were more restaurants on this street.

Big pagoda (Sri Mariamman Temple). This is on top of the entrance to Singapore's oldest and most important Hindu temple (at least according to wikipedia truthiness). Very cool though; huge amount of detail, all intricately carved. So after wandering around Chinatown for a while, I had to head back to the rink for our second game of the day.

They had me playing defense for the tournament, although I'm more comfortable playing as a forward. That's me doing a bad job covering the attacker in front of the goalie. So after that game, I went back to the hotel, took another shower (it's really hot in Singapore, even when you're not playing hockey), but I didn't really have all that much time to wander around, so I went back to the rink and wandered around the food stalls again (and had two dinners). After that, we had our *third* game of the day at 10:15pm. It was about 12:30 by the time that the game ended, I got changed out of my equipment, I grabbed dinner number three, taxi'd back, and took a shower. We met up at the hotel bar, had a couple of drinks, and then proceeded off to some other bar ("China One") in Clarke Quay.

...where we then proceeded to party until about sometime between 3 and 4am. The drinks there were fairly expensive. A gin and tonic cost $14 (singapore dollars), which is a little over $9USD. That's almost NYC prices! We then got some food at a little past 4am, and it was definitely past 5am by the time I hit the sack. Luckily the first game the next day wasn't an early one. I don't think I managed to get much more than four or five hours of sleep per night during the whole trip (there were other guys on the team who fared even worse).